Planning Ahead

July 28, 2014

Atelier yarn and shoesI am almost done my WIP’s and am planning ahead for the next two projects.  I am on a real summer sweater kick this year, can’t seem to get enough of them.  These next two projects are going to be part of a KAL, which I hope will be a lot of fun.  I have been planning to make Atelier with the blue MadTosh yarn I have, and since I bought some new fabulous sandals  I really want to get it done.  I am very happy with how well these sandals go with my wardrobe, I have 3 black and black/white dresses they match very well, and I also love to wear them with a bright green dress I have.  So far I am very happy with my purchase!  If I can get Atelier off the ground, I also plan on making a Sandshore with Zooey, a linen cotton blend.

Zooey Cotton LinenThis is made on big needles for a loose drape, I am hoping it goes fast.  I can get a lot of use out of a neutral cardigan at work.  Our office is always cold in the morning, and warm by the afternoon as the air conditioner is frozen over by then.  I am excited to have such great projects planned!

10463912_662697057133807_3219900268314432081_nAren’t those pretty socks and shoes?  The shoes are one of my first pairs of Fluevogs, purchased in May at their sale.  I have never received so much attention for my shoes before!!  I wore them out of the store, to a meeting, at which the secretary commented on them, on a flight to Fort McMurray, where all the flight attendants commented on them.  I bought them as they coordinate perfectly with a dress I have, they look crazy good together!

Now the socks are really special, I am just modeling them here, but my skein of yarn and the pattern are on their way soon.  We had a knitting party at the local Fluevog store!  It was a lot of fun.  I started to hear about other Fluevog stores having knitting parties when my boss and I went to Vancouver, I had just missed the party at the Granville Island store.  Of course when I got back I contacted the local Calgary store, and then Annie at The Loop to see about getting some yarn dyed in the Fluevog colours.  The local dyer, Two Birds Knits, really knocked the colourway out of the park.  It is a vibrant red with tiny stripes of blue and white.  The custom pattern has a tiny cable down one side.  I can’t wait to get mine.  I didn’t really organize the party and the yarn so much as instigate the whole thing.

The party itself was fun, and there are plans to repeat it in August.  As luck would have it the party was on the eve of the big summer sale, so we got to preview all the shoes on sale.  I have bought a few pairs recently, but luckily most of that is because my boss and husband have discovered I like these shoes, and have been giving me gift certificates.  Yeah for them!  I am telling my boss that the shoes are going to make us a lot of money, and will be totally worth the $$ in the end.  We all tried on shoes, and bought some, even though it is fine to come to the party and not buy any shoes at all.  The store has a beautiful museum space upstairs where we sat and knit for awhile and ate cupcakes.  Yum.

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 This past weekend we escaped the heat wave, and went into the foothills to the Panther River for a fibre/knitting/horseback riding/wandering around/enjoying nature/chasing a toddler retreat.  Something for everyone!  The idea was to bring together people in the fibre community, enjoy a beautiful spot where the Panther and Red Deer River come together, to spin, knit, ride horses, eat, sit, nap, and enjoy ourselves.  Mr. J was game to come along, as did Althea, even though she didn’t have much of a choice.  She was also too young to go on the trail ride, but she still got to pat horses, look at them, and play with the local cats.  She slept well, ate a lot of food, survived the mosquitos, and made friends wherever she went as normal.  I kept wondering what we were going to “do” with her, what activities would take place.  To my surprise, we had a wonderful time wandering around.  A toddler will go here and there as the aimlessly as a little butterfly, flitting from interesting thing to interesting thing.  I realized how restricted her life is really, she can’t wander here and there due to cars, being busy, having to get places, fences, etc. etc.  At the Panther River she could go most places, just not the river, as much as she wanted to.  She practiced going up and down ramps, stairs, tiny bumps, under fences, through trees, grass, up and down hills.  She ran, crawled, was carried, rode on shoulders, played in puddles, experienced tiny minute details, and big animals like horses.

 As for the fibre portion of the weekend, I knit next to the river during Althea’s nap, we hung out in the teepee around a fire one night, and Mr. J was good enough to stay with her in the cabin in the evening so that I could join the group of spinners, felters, knitters, and learners.  It was very lively, and freeform as desired, everyone could do as they wished!  As always I enjoy getting to know folks in the fibre world, and learning new things, I made felted beads!  There are plans for next year, and so far they are pretty good.  I’m already very, very excited about this, you may want to sit down.  Next year they are thinking that during the trail ride we will stop (I think I will go riding next year instead of skipping to spend time with Althea) and gather ingredients from nature in order to do some natural dying.  Indian paintbrush and some other super, extremely cool items that will dye yarn were mentioned.  After the ride we eat, and then dye our yarn with the ingredients we’ve collected!!  I will also try and convince the owners to take their covered wagon out next year so that Althea can experience that.

We met new people, we learned some fun felting techniques, but most of all I learned about my daughter.  Letting her go to wander at her own whims taught me more about her likes, preferences, what she likes to do, where she likes to go, how she experiences the world.  Shedding all our other roles (worker, cleaner, cook) and just being parents was relaxing, rewarding, and fun.  Fun, fun, fun with our delightful little girl who can tell you a bug goes buzz, buzz, buzz, where your nose, ears, eyes, and knees are, and says “please’ for more broccoli.  We are the most proud parents that ever were!

New Kid in Town

November 6, 2010

There is a new independent dyer in town, who we know as the lovely Sam.  She has started up an on-line shop, and now has some product over at Make 1 under the name ‘Yummy Yarn Studios“. 

 I couldn’t resist the happy yarn pictured at left, mostly because I think it is going to make an adorable little baby sweater.  I found this garter stitch jacket that should be perfect for a new born.  I can’t wait to try out this pattern, it looks like its going to be good for making multiple sizes by just increasing yarn weight and needle size.  I have a few other odd balls of yarn that may work.  Plus since it looks like and quick, it could be good for making gifts! 

 I had to hide the tag however, since it was making me hungry for ice cream every time.  I think I may change the name in my head to just “blueberries” which is much more healthy.  I’m trying to detox from all that Hallowe’en candy, and the guys at work keep buying donuts which isn’t helping. 

All the best of luck to Sam!

I’ve been continuing my quarterly goals, during which I tally my stash in Ravelry and download the totals to an Excel spreadsheet, and add up the remaining yards.  I was a bit surprised that from April 1 to July 1 the number went up by almost 2000 yards.  All that knitting I did was cancelled out by trips to Olds, and various other stops along the way.  I enjoy my yarn, but I would also like to see the totals go down!  Therefore my goal for September 1 was to see the number go down from July 1, which is easier said than done!  In order to make it I need to knit another 700 yards by next Wednesday.  Good thing we are going camping this weekend, as camping for me now means sitting in the camp reading, and knitting.  I will try and work in some nature walks, but I really can’t be as active as I used to be, it really takes it out of me, and then I need a whole week to recover.  They don’t tell you in the advertisements that being pregnant can make you feel like you are 80!  They just concentrate on the cute baby.  So, 700 yards.  Its going to be difficult, but I’m going to try.

And of course I’m having a blast updating the tally in my spreadsheet every few days to see how close I’m getting.  Now I need to go and watch the first results show on So You Think You Can Dance Canada, because yes, my life is just that exciting, and I now have a few favorites I’d like to see stay, including one amazing dancer from Edmonton.  Four more rows of Icarus, then the finishing up!  That should be worth 100-200 more yards?

A few weeks ago Miram Felton came all the way up to Calgary to introduce her wonderful new book Twist and Knit, and teach a bunch of us how to design our own lace items.  I’d like to note first of all how much admiration I have for Miriam to have designed these shawls, socks and gloves in the first place, and then to have written and published this book by herself, it really is  a monumental accomplishment.  If you don’t have your copy yet, hurry up! 

Miriam took some time on Friday night to introduce each design in the book, mentioning the inspiration, and what she was trying to accomplish with each piece.  It is one thing to see a design in a 2-d book, but quite another to see it in person, and being wrapped around Miriam who looked so stylish in her grey outfit, perfect with each design.  She pointed out unique aspects of each piece, how the Lacy Lune scarf ends curl pleasingly, how the folds of the Dropleaf Wrap fall into pleats when draped across your shoulders.  The non-lacy Lune makes me wish I had hurried up and learned to spin years ago, it’s giving me some more excellent motivation to get a move on.  It’s such a perfect design for hand-spun, and a very interesting, yet simple design, all the versions showing up on Ravelry are so beautiful in handspun.  My first project will however be a lacy Lune, made with silver Geisha silk from Blue Moon that is going to be incredible!  As soon as I finish Icarus that is, I am still amazed how long it takes when knitting with practically thread. 

During the class we jumped right into picking out stitch patterns, discussing basic shawl types, and deciding which one we wanted to use.  I decided to do a four wedge shawl, which yields a semi-circle end product as I had never made one of that shape before. 

I picked a stitch pattern, called Lingdon Berry, that seemed fairly simple, and began graphing away.  Making stitch charts by hand is a lot of fun.  The stitch pattern seemed very simple, and I felt clever until Miriam figured out the pattern would not repeat for 40 rows, which meant 40 rows of graphing.  Oops.  I cast on the correct number of stitches, and began making my four wedges of lingdonberries.  The pattern is slowly emerging as you can see on the left, and it isn’t that bad.  It needs a good number of inches still to look decent.  Once the shawl is done, and the Lingdonberry Wedgie becomes an internet sensation, all will be well.  That is if I finish making it, and if I ever decide to formally graph up my 40+ rows.  I think I may have to leave the designing to the professionals like Miriam.  After all, she does it so well, and as it appears to us her fans, so effortlessly.

Swatching

July 6, 2010

I had a fit of swatching on the weekend, due to my Tall Flower Cardi being finished, except for one sleeve.  The extra yarn in on order!  The top small swatches are Alpaca Drops for a Buttercup sweater.  I can’t wait to start this one!  The green is my fabulous Peace Fleece which may become a Drops cardigan.  I had been looking around for a short sleeve sweater with cables, since I only have 5 skeins, and this one looked almost perfect.  I got excellent gauge as well, and knitted up, washed and dried the Peace Fleece is even better.  I kinda want to start the green cardigan first, but I think I’ll make myself start Buttercup, as its more of a cold summer, early fall sweater.  I have itchy fingers!!

Changing Things Up

May 31, 2010

I’ve been thinking about changing the way I knit for a while now, but its a big decision.  First off it will take a long time to get into a new rhythm, and secondly the good thing about the way I knit is that I have extremely even, it doesn’t change, tension. 

I’m currently a thrower, or an English knitter.  I grasp the yarn loosely between my thumb and index finger, and throw it around the needle.  I feel rather attached to the English style of knitting not only because this is the way my mother taught me when I was young, but how countless Europeans before us knit.  And also because Nancy Bush tells me this way is wonderful, and its the only way to make nupps.  However one question I really wanted to ask Nancy Bush, and did have time to ask her, was how she held the yarn in her right hand.  I’ve been wondering for awhile if I could speed up my knitting by holding the yarn differently, and get away from the fact I completely drop the right needle to throw the yarn, then pick it back up again. 

After consulting my Vogue Knitting reference, looking around on the internet, and remembering the lesson from Nancy Bush, I started wrapping the yarn around my baby finger as pictured at left, and tensioning it with my index finger.  This leaves my thumb and middle finger free to work on the needle.  I try and not use my thumbs if I can, as it tends to hurt the joints after awhile. 

I got out some gorgeous Noro Retro that I treated myself to at Christmas (after drooling over it for months) and started a ribbed cable scarf to practice.  So far I’m finding this method very natural, and I’m already faster!  However my tension is tighter, which means that I need to switch back to the old method in order to finish off my current projects.  But going forward, starting with this scarf, I think I’ll stick with this now. 

And don’t be so surprised that I started what will probably be a warm, thick wool scarf this weekend.  It snowed most of it!

New Years Traditions

January 2, 2010

The New Years Traditions are kept more faithfully than any Christmas traditions, other than loving my special christmas decorations.  My parents enjoyed their New Years “polar bear” swim this year, bravely plunging into the pool on their tropical island, even though the temperature barely broke 81 oF before indulging in a banana daiquiri using fresh bananas from their tree in the backyard.  Their kids, remarking that it was reaching a balmy -10 oC in comparison did not feel any sympathy for their protestations of being “slightly chilly”.  Mr. J. and I enjoyed our mimosas while tucking into a generous plate of black eyed peas in Hoppin John, candied sweet potatoes, and corn pudding for a southern feast.  We cosied up in front of the fireplace, and thought ourselves brave to venture outside for a brisk walk to help with digestion. 

I updated my stash online, and exported the data out to an Excel file so that I have a “beginning” baseline for the year.  (for full disclosure, its close to 40,000 yards, all of it wonderful) I don’t have any grand plans of stash busting this year, rather I feel more like being footloose and fancy free, and we’ll see where the year takes me.  Once I receive my new day planner, which although I searched high and wide I could not find in town and finally ordered, I’ll get all my yarn written down in there as well in preparation for the satisfying red line when something is used up.  I swatched for my new sweater on January 1:

Originally I had plans of a percentage type cardigan knit in the round, with a generous shape for comfort.  Now that I’ve knit a swatch the plan has changed in my head to a sweater knit in pieces.  The hem will have small cables instead of ribbing, and I’m figuring out a nice pattern to go across the front and back.  I have some pink for accent, which will do nicely for a simple pattern.  My next step, now that I’ve chosen needle sizes and have my gauge swatch, is to make some sketches and then make a hat to try out some patterns.  This is the yarn purchased at the Olds Fibre fair this summer from Wild Geese, and is spun at the Prairie Fibre Mill in Saskatchewan.  I’m going for more of a weekend sweater, and hoping for warmth.  The grey yarn is flecked with blue and pink, and is a blend of merino, alpaca and silk.

In keeping with my footloose and fancy free feeling for the new year, I don’t have any specific resolutions.  I have some hopes and dreams, but sometimes you need to keep those close to your chest if you want them to come true!  Last year my resolution was to use a reuseable cup at least 50% of the time when visiting coffee shops, which both Mr. J and I were very good at doing.  We also saved thirty cents each time, so we made a rule that we could only get “fancy” coffee on the way to work if we had brought our mugs.  We will keep that up.  And in other exciting news, Mr. J got me a lattee holder for my cruiser bike, with a reuseable mug, I really can’t wait until the 10 feet of snow melt in our road so that I can cruise on up and get myself a fancy lattee, then cruise on home.  That is going to be good!!!

Countdown to Christmas!

December 1, 2009

In only 25 days!  I can’t wait, mostly as the office is shutting down and I get a whole blissful week off of work.  Last year I had so many plans of what I was going to do, and then I ended up collapsing on the chesterfield for a week, just worn out from a fall full of work.  Instead of exercising two hours a day, we went for walks.  It didn’t help that it was frigidly cold, and exposed skin frozen in under five minutes.  I’ve already made a number of Christmas presents for my family in Ontario, but now I’m going to get going on the rest!  I fully realize that the nine items I have on my list may not get done, and I’m probably overreaching myself since I need to make three things a week for the next three weeks, but I’m looking forward to working on (almost) all these projects.

From left to right:

1) My collection of leftover Classic Wool to be transformed into felted slippers, and perhaps some felted bowls filled with goodies?

2) Red angora blend to make into a bonny tam.

3) Leftover Ultra-alpaca to make into some Turn a Square Toques

4) Thrummed mittens for my skating coach.  The more pregnant she gets, the less she can move around to keep warm, and the colder the rinks are getting!

5) Superwash fingerling to make an Estonian vest for my second cousin.  This one will be fun as I will be attempting to take a mitten pattern and transform it into a vest for a toddler.  I don’t know if this will work, but if it does it will be so cute. 

6) A striped poncho for niece the elder.  She has pretty bluey eyes!

7) A lacey shrug for niece the younger, who declared purple her favorite colour.

8 ) Bella mittens for SIL.  Time allowing I hope to make liner mittens for these with fleece material, as even though this yarn feel soft, it may be too scratchy for her. 

Wish me luck, and let the knitting begin!  I started some thrummed mittens last night, and I LOVE THEM SO MUCH ALREADY!  I figure I’ll make my pair, screw up on those, then make the other pair for my skating coach.  I’m going to need them as things are about to get colder around here…